So, about a week ago, I got this e-mail from our program coordinator.
Dear Volunteers, our May Corps Connections will feature EVERYONE - what fun!!! Please email me your response to the question below by Sunday, May 9. Please keep your response to 1-3 sentences. I am asking EVERYONE to respond:)
What is the one thing that you have learned from this experience
that you believe will shape and/or give direction to the rest of your life?
I love my program coordinator, but I literally laughed out loud reading this. 1-3 sentences? Was she crazy? I could write a BOOK on what I've learned this year that will shape the rest of my life. Heck, I don't even know if I know everything I've learned this year yet! After that email, I began brainstorming in order to form the perfect mini paragraph. I want to share the notes I took with you. Some are funny, some are wise, some are personal...all are real. This is just part 1, at the end of my service here in Detroit, I'll do a little more :)
-It's okay to be scared. God is right there with you, and He'll send you the people you need in order to help you in those scary times. Sometimes they shine through at the most unexpected times, but that's one of the most wonderful things about God. He surprises us :)
-People love to give me nicknames. In addition to the array of names I have been dubbed throughout high school and college, this year I have been called: Miss C, Miss Caroline, Miss Coroline, Miss Carolan, Miss O'Carolin, Auntie M, Mother, and, my personal favorite, Miss Curolun.
-I have to work on my patience, every single day. I have to constantly remind myself to breathe it all in, to calm down and to live each moment one step at a time. (Hey, Jordin!)
-You CAN impact someone's life just by smiling, showing a little extra love, listening to their story.
-Don't leave the door to the snack room unlocked. Teenagers get hungry.
-We may not be able to change the world, but there is a special feeling in just knowing you have influenced ONE person's life.
-Teenagers have so much to offer. Obnoxious as they may be, they're smart, they have big ideas. Reach out to a teenager, be a mentor. The more positive influences they have, the more likely they are to live out their dreams. Be someone's dream sponsor. We MUST NOT give up on our youth.
-At the end of the day, all we can do is thank God for the beauty we witnessed, and trust in Him. It may have been a tough day, but we got through it, and that's what matters.
-Cristo Rey kids love ranch dressing.
-Wake up every morning with a positive attitude. If you wake up with your cranky pants on, do something positive for yourself to turn that attitude around.
-Living simply is simply beautiful. If every person on this earth spent a year living simply, perhaps things would be different. This is something I am definatley going to be dedicated to doing in my "real life", whatever that turns out to be.
-People come in and out of our lives. Some people who we have felt personally connected to...maybe they were a student at the school we were volunteering for and had to leave. (maybe...) It hurts, and we don't always understand what's happening. That's okay. Know that they will carry a part of you in their heart forever. For that moment of time, you WERE a part of their life. Therefore, you always will be a part of their life, in spirit.
-Having a community of positive support will help you to keep on. Praying together, cooking together, experiencing life together, are all important aspects to staying strong in supporting each other. If you don't have that community, find it. I firmly believe that God led me to MVC for many reasons, but one of the most important being my roomates this year, as well as the Sister's of Mercy and my co-workers. That is my community, and I love each of them for the gifts they have given me.
-While it's important to be compassionate, it's also important to be careful. Remember that you are the most important person in your life, and if you are worrying too much about other people, you aren't taking care of yourself, and then you will stop helping others. Wearing your heart on your sleeve can get you hurt. Don't allow others to walk all over you.
-Love. Love equally, love hard. Love yourself, love those around you, love God. With love, you can do anything. Love will lead you to trust, forgive, believe, understand.
-Have confidence in yourself. Know your incredible worth, that God created you in his image and that you have a purpose. Take charge of your life. Stand up for yourself, but also know when your wrong, and have the ability to ask for forgiveness.
So, what am I going to email to Marie? I decided to combine a few. Hopefully, it makes sense.
The one thing I feel that will forever shape my life is something that was said by one of my students, and that is "never give up". Challenges will arise, and, most likely, you will fall a couple of times on your journey...but have confidence in yourself and get right back up. Don't give up on yourself, your neighbors, or God.
Does that make sense?
I hope so. I only have three more months of this experience...that is starting to scare me...but, I'm going to finish strong :)